Ashton Marra Published

House Speaker: Special Session Call Was a 'Mistake'


Members of the House of Delegates have voted down a bill to overhaul the state’s tax system.

The bill was the key to the governor’s plan to balance the 2018 budget and died on a 59-36 vote Thursday evening.

The tax reform bill, one of five on the agenda for the special session that began Thursday, would have restructured the state’s personal income tax, setting benchmarks for its eventual repeal.

It also called for increasing the consumer sales and the corporate net income taxes and made changes to both coal and natural gas severance tax rates, among some other provisions.

House Speaker Tim Armstead said in a press conference following the vote that the plan is wrong for West Virginia and his caucus has been against it since similar measures were voted down during the regular session.

“And it was time that we made a clear statement to that effect so there wasn’t discussion about ‘Are they really united in the House? Do they really believe this?’ I think it’s really clear from this vote that we believe this,” he said.

Armstead called it a “mistake” for lawmakers to have been called back into session without a budget deal in place, although he said his caucus is prepared to sit down with both the Senate and Governor to begin negotiating a final deal.

The same tax reform bill is still alive in the Senate.

Lawmakers will return to the Capitol Friday to consider the other measures on the call, including bills to increase teacher salaries, raise the gasoline tax and Division of Motor Vehicle Fees, and extend the tolls on the state turnpike.